Neck Pain

TMJ with neck pain

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Marc Darrow MD,JD

Over the years we have received our fair share of emails from patients seeking treatment for their TMJ. In many of these emails, the sender will describe to us osteoarthritis of the jaw that came as a result of a traumatic injury such as a jaw dislocation during a hockey game or a dislocation or a fractured jaw from an accident. Some will write that their TMJ problems developed when they had some wisdom teeth removed. Others will suggest that TMJ came upon them slowly as a degenerative joint disease. This article will focus on the later, the connection of degenerative TMJ and degenerative cervical disc disease.

When TMJ has its root in cervical spine disorders

TMJ can develop from a combination of slow moving inter-related factors, sometimes starting with poor head posture that contributes to the stretching and weakening of the cervical spine ligaments and lateral TMJ ligaments. As a result of these degenerative changes, the lower jaw slips forward and creates a worsening of the patient’s problems. Like the people I described above, who had an acute event that began their TMJ problems, people who develop TMJ over time can also experience loud popping or the clicking of bones rubbing together in the loosened joint, accompanied by pain and stiffness as the muscles tighten, trying to compensate for the instigating laxity.
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Can you avoid cervical neck surgery?

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Marc Darrow MD,JD

I regularly see patients who have been told by another doctor that they need a neck surgery to prevent the further degeneration of their cervical spine. Some of these patients are very frightened by what their doctor told them. Some were told that if their symptoms progress they could risk permanent damage to their ability to function maybe to the point of paralysis.

“I am worried if I do not get surgery my neck will get worse”

Research has strongly suggested that many patients decide on cervical fusion surgery because they fear a progression of their problem that will lead to permanent disability. However, follow-up data on patients with degenerative disease of the upper (cervical) spinal vertebrae show little or no evidence of worsening degeneration over time. Recently, doctors published findings that suggested that the majority of these patients may be stable and do not develop progression of disease or catastrophic neurologic deficits.
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Stem cell therapy and PRP for Whiplash associated disorders

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Marc Darrow MD,JD

In the more than 20 years we have been helping patients with their chronic pain, we have seen many people with hyper-extended neck injuries, or, in simpler terms whiplash injury. We have also seen patients who suffered from long-term effects of their whiplash injury until such time as they were diagnosed with Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD). As noted in many studies including that published in the journal Frontiers in neurology:

  • The main concern with whiplash is that a large proportion of whiplash patients experience disabling symptoms or whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) for months if not years following the accident.”(1)

As noted, Whiplash associated disorders are a lingering and complex series of problems for patients who have suffered whiplash injury in the past and whose impact continues for years even decades after the initial injury. The complexity of pain issues these patients suffer from leaves many frustrated with their health care providers and leaves some fighting to prove that there is something really wrong with them. If one were to examine the research on whiplash related disorders, he/she would find that most of the new studies center around identifying those patients who cannot be helped or feel helpless.
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Cervical Spine and Neck Pain

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Marc Darrow MD,JD

Everyday we get many emails. Some of these emails concern neck pain. In many of these emails the person asking a question sends me their cervical neck MRI findings. That is all they send: A cut and paste of their MRI report. They never say what their pain is like, how this neck pain is affecting their day to day quality of life, or any other glimpses into how this chronic neck pain is hurting them. The email that they send me is all about their neck MRI. Our own clinical findings and that of researchers is that maybe your neck pain should not be all about your MRI.It should be about you.

As many of you are already aware, MRI interpretations can be a long, hard to understand, somewhat frustrating thing for a patient to see and read. The MRI may also seemingly describes a lot of problems with a lot of terminology that can be considered frightening. This may, for many, cause unneeded anxiety and fear. I have been doing regenerative medicine for more than 20 years. Over the years we have been blessed to have helped many people with their neck pain. I have seen patients with varying degrees of degenerative cervical spine disease trying to avoid surgery, I have also seen patients after a cervical neck surgery with more challenges than before the surgery who, unfortunately, may have had a surgery that they did not need. The one thing many of these people had in common was a cervical neck MRI that suggested a lot more problems than the patient was actually having.
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